Cultivating the Infrastructure Workforce in the Nation’s Capital
Under the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser, The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is working to bring Washington DC’s roadways, alleys, and sidewalks to a state of good repair over the next five years. By 2024, we will have replaced our structurally deficient bridges, paved hundreds of miles of roadway, and deployed green infrastructure across our city. At the same time, DDOT is also currently working on strategically updating our street sign and pavement marking inventory as a part of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero Initiative.
As we continue this hard work of rebuilding and updating our infrastructure, we also work in support of the Mayor’s vision of making prosperity more inclusive and ensuring that Washingtonians are able to take advantage of job opportunities in the transportation sector. That’s why Mayor Bowser created the DC Infrastructure Academy in 2018. The Academy provides residents with training opportunities in various segments of the infrastructure industry where participants can also earn their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), enroll in automotive technician training, and learn other specialized fields.
Earlier this spring, the District’s Department of Employment Services (DOES) and DDOT launched the Street Sign Installer Workforce Training Program in conjunction with the Infrastructure Academy. This pilot program provides both classroom and on-the-job training for District residents with a career interest in transportation. The 12-month training program includes two weeks of required classroom instruction at the DC Infrastructure Academy, preparing participants for entry-level transportation positions. Trainees then receive six weeks of on-the-job training with DDOT’s Street Sign Installation unit, earning a wage of $16.10 per hour. Upon completion of the program, participants will gain hands-on experience in sign installation and earn certifications in Flagger and OSHA-10 Construction Safety. Trainees who have completed the program also will have the opportunity to compete for employment opportunities at DDOT. The 12-month program began April 1, 2019, with six District residents enrolled in the first cohort.
The pilot program is a great example of the kind of specialized training and workforce development being provided through the DC Infrastructure Academy. The Street Sign Installer Workforce Training Program will equip DC residents with the skills and knowledge they need to fill critical positions. Now, four months into the program, our sign installer trainees have completed their classroom courses and safety training and are working across all eight wards of the District as a part of the initiative to repair or replace roadway signage.
We strive daily to deliver on our mission to enhance the quality of life for District residents and visitors by ensuring that people, goods, and information move efficiently and safely with minimal adverse impact on residents and the environment. Our workforce is integral to our success as we work to deliver on that commitment. DDOT will continue to partner with the DC Infrastructure Academy to expand our workforce and ensure that we are well prepared to meet the daily demands of building and maintaining our transportation system.
Jeff Marootian is the Director of the District Department of Transportation where he leads the 1100-employee agency in its mission to create a safe and sustainable transportation system for the District of Columbia. Jeff is responsible for delivering on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s priorities to rebuild and modernize the city’s public infrastructure; embrace innovation and technology to increase mobility options, and reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries through a concerted Vision Zero strategy. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the Northeast Corridor Commission and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.